Do I Need Waders? What Should I Wear Beneath Them?
Here at Fly Fishing Outfitters, we are often asked about waders, whether they are necessary, and what fly-fishing aficionados should wear under them.
We have been working as fly-fishing experts for years and our advice is that waders are necessary, even in the summer. They protect your body from the cold river water but also from rocks and sprains when walking in streams.
The answer to ‘what to wear beneath waders’ depends on the time of the year. Summer and winter weather conditions require different clothes and layers. Of course, all seasons can be unpredictable, so you’d better be prepared for the unexpected.
Our fly-fishing apparel guide will help you get suitably dressed for your expedition. Don’t forget you can always rent your equipment and waders from our fly fishing shop!
Do I Need Waders?
We strongly suggest you wear waders when fly-fishing, even in the summer.
If you plan on standing in river and stream water for long stretches of time, you will inevitably feel the cool water around your feet. Even in the summer, river temperatures are not high enough for comfortable fly-fishing.
As for winter, temperatures are very cold and you could risk frostbite and hypothermia without waders protecting you from the wind and rain.
Additionally, waders and wading boots help you walk on rocks without slipping. This makes your fly fishing more versatile, letting you walk around the river to find the best casting location. Wading boots will also help you with your casting technique because they keep you stable.
What Do I Wear Beneath Waders?
The clothes you wear under your waders depend on the time of the year. Cold weather requires extra layers, while warm weather requires lighter clothing.
While some people choose to wear waders on their skin in the summer, we recommend you wear something underneath, as waders can chafe your skin and make you feel uncomfortable. This would take away from the excitement of fly-fishing around Vail, Colorado.
What To Wear Beneath Waders In Summer
Summer temperatures are mild and enjoyable, but they can be unpredictable as well. You should be prepared for the unexpected storm as well as unforeseen wind.
You want to wear something breathable as a base layer, ideally made of material that wicks your sweat and carries it away from your body. We suggest polypropylene or other nylon fibers, which have been designed precisely for body comfort. You should wear this base layer on both your body and your legs. Choose pants made of breathable fabrics that don’t hold on to sweat and humidity.
Don’t forget to wear socks, or your feet may get chafed by the wading boots. Don’t wear ankle socks because they are too short for boots and will soon fold under your feet. Your socks should be made of a fabric with sweat-control properties.
Summer means sunshine, so carry a hat and sunscreen—but also be prepared for the occasional shower with a lightweight jacket or a windbreaker for unexpected wind bursts.
What To Wear Beneath Waders in Winter
The motto for winter is layering. You want to keep warm in freezing temperatures, yet have freedom of movement to cast your line.
Starting with the base layer, you want a body-warming breathable material that keeps you warm and dry from head to toes. This means a long-sleeved insulating layer on your body—ideally from merino wool, which manages sweat and keeps you warm. Choose long johns for your legs, again from a moisture-managing fabric like merino or some nylon alternative.
The second layer should be a warm wool sweater and warm full-length socks. Ideally opt for thermal socks. Remember that your feet will take the brunt of the cold because they will be surrounded by icy-cold water. Likewise, your pants should be insulated and wool-lined or made of fleece.
It is a good idea to have a waterproof jacket with you as well to protect you from wind and rain. Ideally, your jacket will have a hood to keep your head warm and protected from rain.
Do I Need Wading Boots?
If you have stockingfoot waders, you will need wading boots. Stockingfoot waders have a sock-like ending to put your feet in—but that’s not enough to go in water: you still need wading boots.
If you have bootfoot waders, the wading boots are attached to the waders, so you only need to get warm socks underneath.
Don’t Wear Cotton in Your Fly-Fishing Expeditions
No matter how nice cotton can be to the touch, it is impractical in fly-fishing conditions. Cotton soaks up water and sweat and releases it very slowly. As a result, you will be standing in the middle of a river with moist clothes clinging to your skin. Not only is this unpleasant, but it also poses a risk to your health.
That is why we always suggest you choose fabrics and materials that are breathable and have some moisture-managing capacity. Ideally, antimicrobial fabrics are preferred because they curtail bacterial growth.
Fly Fishing Outfitters Have All the Fly-Fishing Equipment You Need
Don’t worry if you don’t have all the necessary equipment for your fly-fishing experience. We can supply you with waders, wading boots, and any other fishing equipment you need at our Vail, Colorado shop.